A group of seven fully autonomous Volvo trucks being put to work in mines in Europe offer a look at a way to improve working conditions in dangerous locations
Volvo Autonomous Solutions (VAS) is showing just what the future of mining may look like with its fleet of seven autonomous mining trucks currently at work in Norway.
Providing the trucks to mining company Brönnöy Kalk for use in tough conditions at their limestone mine in Velfjord, the removal of the human element out of the safety equation may provide safety solutions previously unheard of.
The trucks operate in challenging conditions that include steep inclines, extreme weather and long stretches of dark tunnels, dragging limestone from the mine to the crusher.
“A long-held vision is now a reality. Removing the safety driver in an active commercial transport operation in some of the world’s most challenging conditions is a major leap for the industry,” says Nils Jaeger, president of Volvo Autonomous Solutions.
“With this milestone we are underlining our leadership in autonomous driving and paving the way for safer and more efficient future for the mining and quarrying industries.”
Brönnöy Kalk’s managing director Raymond Langfjord says the move to greater automation is a big step forward for the business.
“We implemented autonomous trucks for several reasons — safety, efficiency and flexibility.
“With the removal of the safety driver we can now truly reap these benefits and increase our competitiveness in this tough industry.”
|The Volvo autonomous trucks are currently at work in Norway
Work on the project started in 2018 with a business model that allows companies such as
Brönnöy Kalk to buy autonomous capacity from V.A.S. rather than buying a truck or a machine.
V.A.S. head of solutions for mining and quarry, Sven-Erik Gustafsson, says the business model makes it more attractive for customers to try the technology.
“While autonomy brings unprecedented benefits to the industry, incorporating new technologies into existing operations can be a daunting challenge for many customers.
“By providing a complete solution that encompasses everything from software to site infrastructure to training to operations, we are able to reduce complexity for customers like Brönnöy Kalk and enable them to be a part of the autonomous future.”
The seven Volvo FH Trucks are operated by a V.A.S. in-house developed virtual driver to operate over a five-kilometre path with the wheel loader operator using a touch screen in the wheel loader to call the trucks for loading and to manage the operation.